Sunday, August 21, 2011
Flirting with Bacon
His name was Nathan.
I know this because I forced myself to commit his name to memory rather than just letting it drift in and out of my mind like I usually do when we are "meeting" and "greeting" at church.
"Nathan, Nathan, Nathan," I repeated over and over again.
I'd been waiting for the moment ever since I'd purposely sat down in the pew in front of him. When I'd purposely flipped my hair and purposely sat just slightly askew so he could see the side of my face when I laughed at Pastor Brewer's lame jokes and would know that I'm the good-natured sort. The sort that laughs at lame jokes. Perhaps his lame jokes. Over bowls of tagliatelle verde at the Mozzarella Bar at Osteria Mozza.
I hadn't even much minded when two not-so wholesome looking ladies whose names I did not commit to memory sat down in the pew next to me, forcing me to scoot down further and almost out of his direct line of vision. I told myself that he -- Nathan -- would immediately recognize their short dresses and artfully made-up faces as the physical manifestations of high maintenancey and below average IQs. In contrast, my trim floral knee-length skirt and severely under made-up face would seem like a breath of fresh air.
"They are just making me look more attractive," I thought as I simultaneously cursed myself for not applying mascara or plucking the two visibly straw hairs I'd noticed peaking out from underneath my left eyebrow before I'd left my apartment.
"He'll appreciate my au natural state," I decided while slicking my lips with the gummy nude lip gloss I'd found lurking at the bottom of my bag.
Satisfied that at least my lips were momentarily out of disrepair, I cast my eyes up to the alter, focusing on Pastor Brewer's sermon like a good Christian -- a Christian who isn't fantasizing about intimate pasta dinners with the boy sitting in the pew behind her.
"Nathan, Nathan, Nathan."
Because this was church -- a place of worship -- clearly not the locale for picking up next Saturday night's date or Mozza meal ticket.
"Nathan, Nathan, Nathan."
I mean it would be totally inappropriate to turn around when the Pastor remarked on all the crazy single people there are in LA and say, "Yeah, how about those crazy single people. You should totally date a non-crazy person like me." Because that would obviously make me seem completely sane. The physical manifestation of normal.
"Nathan, Nathan, Nathan."
So I didn't say anything at all. I kept my legs crossed underneath my trim, floral knee-length skirt; the eyes underneath my untrimmed eyebrows cast to the front so I could laugh at Pastor Brewer's lame jokes on cue, and I left the service without asking him -- Nathan -- if he came there often or wanted to come often with me. Come often to church, of course. (I do go every Sunday.)
I cursed my inability to say anything other than the obscenely appropriate, "Hi, my name is Diana," all the way home. Once there, I ripped off my stupidly conservative skirt, plucked my eyebrows with the be-all-end all Tweezerman tweezers and put on my short short gray sweat shorts. Then I went and corrupted my other place of worship in the worst way I could imagine.
I put bacon in my quinoa.
And I devoured every inappropriate bite.
"Q-BLT" Bacon, Kale and Tomato Quinoa with a Fried Egg
Serves 1 Crazy Single Person
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 thick-cut slice of bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 yellow onion, finely chopped (approximately 1/2 cup)
2 heaping cups chopped kale
*Slow-roasted tomatoes (can be prepared ahead of time)
1 egg (brought to room temperature -- it fries better when not too chilled)
1 teaspoon lemon juice.
Bring slightly less than 1/2 a cup of water to a boil in small saucepan. Add the thoroughly rinsed quinoa, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for approximately 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, take the lid off, fluff with a fork and set aside to "air dry."
Heat large frying pan (fitted with a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon pieces and sauté until bacon has released a good amount of its fat and come to a satisfying crispy texture. Remove bacon pieces with a slotted spoon or fork and set on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the onion to the hot pan, and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until translucent. Add the kale, a pinch of salt, reduce the temperature to low, and cover with the lid. Braise for 25-30 minutes or until kale is silky in texture. Squirt with lemon juice just prior to serving.
Heat nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a splash of olive oil to the center, spreading out with a spatula to coat the inside surface of the hot pan. Crack the egg in the center, being careful not to break the yolk. Salt and pepper to taste (my taste involves generous salting and peppering). Let sit undisturbed until edges of white are fully cooked through and only a puddle of white remains uncooked around the yolk. Carefully flip the egg over and let cook for 1 more minute over medium heat to ensure the white is fully cooked, while the yolk remains gorgeously runny. Turn off the heat.
Toss quinoa, kale, a handful of slow-roasted tomatoes and bacon together. Plate immediately and top with fried egg.
*Slow-roasted tomatoes: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Slice cherry, baby heirloom, grape or other small tomato of your choice in half. Spread halves out, seed-side up, in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and roast until shriveled in appearance -- approximately 45-60 minutes. Tomatoes freeze beautifully so don't be afraid to make a big batch. I store mine in the freezer in airtight containers, placing the tomatoes in single layers on sheets of wax paper.